Tide must turn on East Coast

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FIRST the good news. The Government’s decision to allocate just over £90m to Britain’s coastal resorts and surrounding areas is a recognition that Ministers acknowledge the scale of the challenges facing these communities – whether it be jobs or the need for enhanced flood protection measures. It would be churlish to overlook this commitment.

FIRST the good news. The Government’s decision to allocate just over £90m to Britain’s coastal resorts and surrounding areas is a recognition that Ministers acknowledge the scale of the challenges facing these communities – whether it be jobs or the need for enhanced flood protection measures. It would be churlish to overlook this commitment.

Now the not so good news. This money, including £2m to regenerate Bridlington town centre and £300,000 to turn a disused Hull dock into a technology hub, is a drop in the proverbial ocean when compared to the amount of investment that is required if these areas are to fulfil their potential. One announcement, pulling together two funding streams, must not be allowed to constitute “job done”.

Although the devastating impact of the recent floods has added a sense of urgency to the timing of these announcements, communities along the East Coast were in need of further economic support before they were hit by a damaging tidal surge that was ignored by the Government – the people affected did not receive the type of support that Ministers then made available to homeowners in the Thames Valley.

Yet, as the Government comes under pressure to find new ways to finance flood defence projects and so on, this process must not distract attention away from the need to attract new private sector investment.

The very geography of Yorkshire’s coastal communities means they are inevitably some distance away from those larger towns and cities which are home to the bigger employers, hence why jobs are at a premium. Yet it will be harder to persuade firms to relocate to, say, Bridlington or Scarborough, areas of above-average employment, when the infrastructure – whether it be transport links or broadband access – is patchy at best.

And then there is Hull, a proud city whose location is another victim of geography. Yes, its fortunes are being transformed slowly, and to the credit of those behind ventures like City of Culture, but change will take time and today’s announcement is offset by the 450 jobs being shed by Hull Council.

Though the area was allowed to become over-dependent on welfare payments, an issue now being addressed, its transition from a neglected city to a 21st century powerhouse requires the Government persuading Siemens to invest in Hull and an economic framework that actively encourages new investment in East Yorkshire.

Conscience call

Boothroyd backs right to die debate

AS Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd’s forceful personality – a legacy of her Yorkshire upbringing – engendered respect. She was trusted by MPs and the public alike, and her passionate contributions to the House of Lords had mostly been about the primacy of Parliament.

None more so than her powerful intervention on the issue of assisted suicide, and delivered with the raw emotion and passion which is rarely seen in the House of Commons these days.

Baroness Boothroyd’s point, delivered with great succinctness, was a profound one – why is Parliament allowing the courts to determine the issue of assisted dying when it should be up to democratically-elected MPs to consider one of the defining “moral” arguments of these times, and how current laws have become “a blunt instrument” towards those “who want to die with dignity”.

Though there will be those who disagree with the stance taken by the Dewsbury-born life peer, this is just the type of conscience issue that should be the subject of a free vote in the Commons.

It is a debate which needs to be the precursor to a wider discussion about how Britain will care for its elderly in the future.

This week’s harrowing story of Leeds pensioner Lily Latham who was left bed-ridden by her carers for 15 hours is a case in point. Some animals would not be treated this badly, so why does this country offer so little dignity to its elderly?

Racing certainty

Kaiser Chiefs will cause a riot

DONCASTER and York racecourses are famous around the world thanks to enduring moments such as Lester Piggott and Nijinksy’s Triple Crown in 1970 and, more recently, the unrivalled brilliance of Frankel and his ailing trainer Sir Henry Cecil.

Yet, if both venues are to continue to set the pace when it comes to the quality of racing on offer, they need to attract a new generation of racegoers through the turnstiles.

It is why today’s announcement that the Kaiser Chiefs will cause a riot when they perform on Town Moor after racing on June 28 will be music to the ears of so many.

With legendary rockers Status Quo and singer-songwriter James Blunt also performing at Doncaster this summer, and The Beach Boys and Wet Wet Wet taking centre-stage on the Knavesmire in late July, there is one racing certainty this summer – these two venues will emerge with enhanced reputations.

Not only do their facilities now rank among the very best in the sport, but they are being showcased throughout the entertainment industry and that can only help horse racing in the longer term.